Josh Allen is still a work in progress as the quarterback of the Buffalo Bills, but after his rookie season in Western New York, he has shown enough potential to offer up hope to both the team and its fans that he might finally be the long-term answer at quarterback. As any long-tenured Bills fan will tell you, for a team that’s struggled to find its next franchise quarterback since Hall of Famer Jim Kelly retired after the 1996 season—that potential and hope are incredibly welcome.
Allen, who bounced back from a right elbow injury against the Houston Texans to guide the Bills to a 3-3 record over their final six games, completed 52.8 percent of his passes for 2,074 yards with ten touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He also rushed for 631 yards and eight touchdowns on 89 carries, good for an average of 7.09 yards per rush. He had a 67.9 passer rating and a 52.0 Total QBR, second best to Baker Mayfield among rookies and 12th best among rookie quarterbacks since ESPN began tracking the stat in 2006.
In order to draft Allen, the Bills had to trade picks 12, 53 and 56 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to select Allen, the University of Wyoming product.
With the benefit of having the majority of one season observing how Allen played in his first year in Buffalo, we thought it would be appropriate to review what media members had to say about the Allen pick.
“Josh Rosen (drafted 10th by the Arizona Cardinals) was the undeniably safer choice, considered pro-ready and a natural pocket passer. Allen was the wild card whose off-the-charts arm strength gave him a higher ceiling than Rosen but whose 56 percent completion rate in college served as his scarlet letter throughout the pre-draft process.”
(General manager Brandon Beane) “rolled the dice on Allen, unleashing a firestorm of social media criticism from a segment of the fan base that seemed both exhausted with first-round busts at quarterback and eager for Beane to turn his myriad trades since last year into tangible hope for a brighter future,” Rodak continued.
“Allen seemed like the perfect fit for the Bills all along. At 6-foot-5 and 237 pounds and with the most powerful arm of any college prospect to come along in a while, he is the big, strong pocket passer the team needs to handle the rugged weather with which he’ll have to deal at New Era Field.”
Per the same article by Carucci, NFL Network’s Mike Mayock said the following:
“He’s got the biggest arm I’ve seen since JaMarcus Russell, and JaMarcus Russell was a bust. What I think differentiates this kid is his football IQ, passion, work ethic, and I could see a difference between 2016 and 2017, and I could see a difference between 2017 to the Combine and then again to the Pro Day.”
“I would have preferred Rosen, who is a more polished passer but has had injury and concussions issues, plus a reputation for cockiness. ... Allen comes with a lot of accuracy issues. Of the first seven picks, he was the first one whose shortcomings were emphasized by the TV commentators. It’ll take time to find out if Beane hit the jackpot in his first draft. It didn’t cost the Bills a lot. They didn’t have to give the 22nd overall pick or next year’s. But if Allen doesn’t pan out, will saving all the draft capital be worth it?”
Sal Maiorana, of the Democrat & Chronicle wasn’t shy when sharing his initial thoughts:
“It seemed like Rosen should have been the pick because he was considered the most pro-ready of the top four quarterbacks in the draft, and certainly more advanced than Allen, but the Bills thought otherwise. ... there’s some bad draft history that hangs over this franchise, particularly at quarterback, and this pick has a chance to crank it up a little higher on the old misery meter.”
Barrett Sallee from CBS Sports was less-than-impressed with the pick.
Update: That team was the Bills. https://t.co/ROka1hSG5z— Barrett Sallee (@BarrettSallee) April 27, 2018
Aaron Schatz from Football Outsiders believed the Bills made a huge mistake moving on from Tyrod Taylor and replacing him with Allen.
I would rather have Tyrod Taylor quarterbacking my team over the next four years than Josh Allen.— Aaron Schatz (@FO_ASchatz) April 27, 2018
Not all the media reaction was negative. Bucky Brooks of the NFL Network drew comparisons between Allen and Cam Newton, the Carolina Panthers’ quarterback who won NFL MVP honors after the 2015 season.
I've always believed that Josh Allen compared to Cam Newton in the minds of the decision makers with @buffalobills . Not saying they're the same players, but JA is a big, strong-armed passer with athleticism and accuracy woes. CAR went to the SB with Cam. #NFLDraft— Bucky Brooks (@BuckyBrooks) April 27, 2018
Here’s more media reaction:
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports
“They get the best QB in the draft and they had to go make the move to get him. Love the trade, love the pick.”
Mike Mayock, NFL.com
“I give them a lot of credit for being patient, not going all the way up to No. 2. They got their guy. Think about the culture in that locker room. This is their kind of player. He’s got crazy arm talent. This issue with him: Sometimes he throws the ball late. I think he’s a project.”
“Somehow the Bills managed to move up from the 12th pick without having to give up their second first-round pick this year. In that regard, it’s a good move by general manager Brandon Beane. That alone bumps the grade up slightly.
However, taking Allen over Josh Rosen is a surprise. Allen has the tools, and fits the stereotypes you often hear about playing in a cold weather city like Buffalo. But he’s been an inaccurate passer throughout his career and needs to be coached up. Ultimately, if Allen becomes successful, it doesn’t matter what Buffalo gave up to get him and a lot of draftniks will have egg on their face.”
Andy Benoit. SI.com
“The Bills traded up with the Buccaneers and then rolled the dice. UCLA’s Josh Rosen is the most pro-ready QB in this draft, by far. Allen, however, has the upside. His arm strength might be the best ever (certainly enough to cut through the notorious Buffalo wind), and his mobility is outstanding. That’s the part that gets overlooked. Wyoming called designed runs for Allen, much like Sean McDermott’s former Panthers team did for Cam Newton. Having a QB in your ground game skews the geometry and box count numbers for the defense, and it can be a tremendous offensive advantage. And notably, Allen is a better on-the-move thrower than Newton. Though like Newton, overall, he’s not a consistent ball placer. The Bills hope that can improve, but privately, they’ve almost certainly decided they can live with some bouts of inaccuracy. It’s an intriguing pick, but still a gamble, especially when factoring in the extra picks they gave up.”
Mel Kiper, ESPN
“The Bills moved up from No. 12 to No. 7 and gave up two second-round picks to get their quarterback of the future in Wyoming’s Josh Allen. I like Allen—he’s a rare talent—but Buffalo has too many holes to give up premium picks to move up five spots. This could turn out well if Allen isn’t rushed into playing; Buffalo does have AJ McCarron as a starter for 2018.”
“Allen has all the physical skill in the world. You’re still gambling on a guy who wasn’t first- or second-team all-Mountain West last season. That’s a big risk, especially moving up.”
- Frank Schwab
“Taking Josh Allen over Josh Rosen is going to haunt the Bills for years.”
- Nick Bromberg
“Wow, the Bills gave up a haul to take a QB with accuracy problems.”
- Jason Owens
“What a great job for the Bills. They wanted to trade up all along, but the problem was surrendering No. 22 or a 2019 first-round pick. They didn’t want to give up either, and they didn’t. They dealt their two second-rounders instead.
As for the actual player, it’s nice to see that Josh Allen’s actions from when he was 14 didn’t impact his draft standing. Allen is raw, but he has great arm strength and mobility, which will work well in Buffalo. He also works very hard, so I think he’ll be able to work on his accuracy woes.”